Top SEA students to share President’s gold award

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Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. Photo by Sureash Cholai –

The dispute over the top place of the 2020 SEA results has been resolved with two students sharing the President’s Medal (Gold), according to the Ministry of Education.

In a statement on Saturday, the ministry said it has recognised Ameerah Beekhoo and Aaron Subero as the top scorers in the 2020 exam and has said both students will receive the President’s Medal (Gold) on Monday.

“In a situation where two highly performing students have both excelled academically and have been both, through no fault of their own, been promised the highest accolade of the President’s Medal, and have both declared their willingness to share this accolade, as an exception to any earlier practice, this option has been agreed to, as it would conduce to the benefit of both students,” the statement said.

The ministry again apologised for the controversy surrounding which student should get the medal and said it should not have occurred. On Friday, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said it was sticking with its original position to award Beekhoo only as the top winner on the basis of the preliminary results even though attorneys representing both Beekhoo and Subero submitted proposals for them to jointly share the award.

The release also announced St Gabriel’s Girls RC student Mercedes David and Trinidad Renaissance School student Anjanaa Dan Trinidad Renaissance School will each receive the President’s Medal (Silver).

Contention over which student should get the gold medal started when Beekhoo was sent an invite on March 31 to attend the award ceremony at President’s House for the silver medal which is given to the second place SEA student.

On the same day, Subero was invited to the ceremony for the gold medal which is given to the first place student.

The mix-up occurred after a ministry official “exceeded the authority of their remit” by varying the placement list without approval after Subero’s marks were upgraded following a review of his exam script.

But Beekhoo’s parents threatened legal action and questioned the grounds on which she was awarded the silver medal given she was recognised by the ministry as the top 2020 SEA student in a ceremony on October 8, 2020.

On April 7, the ministry rescinded both invites and said Beekhoo would be awarded the gold medal which led to Subero’s parents threatening legal action.

On Thursday, the ministry maintained awards for the top SEA scorers in any given year are based on preliminary results.

In its release on Saturday, the ministry said it avoided defending the parents’ proposed legal actions as it would not have been in the best interest of the students involved.

“Quite apart from the merits of any proposed legal challenge by any of these students, it is important to recognise that both children will have regrettably and unjustifiably suffered as a result of the conflicting messages they have received.”

The ministry said there will be a review of this process by which the medals are awarded.

Final list of medal winners:

*Ameerah Beekhoo: San Fernando TML (Gold)

* Aaron Subero: Maria Regina Grade School (Gold)

*Anjanaa Dan: Trinidad Renaissance School (Silver)

*Mercedes David: St. Gabriel’s Girls RC (Silver)

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